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This last Sunday I finally moved out of my parents’ house in Orinda to Cupertino, the neighboring city of my childhood home town, Saratoga. Today I met my parents at Hong Fu, a local Chinese restaurant where my family frequently took my sister and me for simple occasions, such as a relative or family guest visit. The owner, whom I found out today was my father’s college classmate, recognized my parents immediately and came up to our table and cordially made small talk with us. We were later pleasantly surprised to be served a free dish of vegetables and a complementary hot, red-bean desert formed into a shape of a mouse, at the orders of the owner. Enveloping the gooey red bean paste was a flaky, croissant-like skin, which on top were punctured two red holes that represented the eyes, and attached underneath were two tiny pieces of fried dough, the feet. I chuckle at the thought of all those years thinking that these deserts were standard dishes to end the meal. Childhood ignorance is bliss.

After parting ways with my folks after dinner, I decided to take a detour to my old childhood church, Home of Christ 5, which is now only a 5 minute car drive away from my new residence. I pulled into the parking lot of the old office-converted-to-church building, and saw for the first time in a long while the familiar two-story white structure that still encases my old Sunday school rooms and Youth Fellowship hall. I noticed the old playground in front, where I used to play games as a child, collecting splinters in my hands from the tanbark. Eventually, I grew up into 5th grade and eventually moved out of the playground and into the church where I found things to do that were better suited for young adolescents my age: light patrol. I remember my sister, my friend and I, self-appointed watchmen and auditors of the church’s energy practices, patrolled the church halls after Sunday school to turn off all the lights, even when service was still in session downstairs. We ran into trouble when our nemeses, another 5th grader and his gang, however, confronted us and were just as determined to undo all our hard work. They stealthily trailed after us, flipping back on all the lights that we switched off, which led to arguments that escalated into name-calling, which led to tattle-taling, and our eventual incrimination, and a proper scolding from our Sunday School teachers. Our operation lasted only 3 consecutive Sundays.

All this I remembered as I drove by this bland, whitewashed building originally designed to house soulless worker drones, not worshippers. And although it felt so familiar, it failed to feel warm. I squinted out of my window and searched for glowing, lit up windows, that might have indicated some sort of midweek activity for church members. But the dark metallic maroon doors were shut tight, and there were no lights in the windows. The only soul around was a man who had just pulled his gold Camry into the parking lot right before I did, and he looked puzzled as he saw me, a strange boy speeding by in yet another Japanese mid-sized sedan that is so prevalent down here in the Silicon Valley area of practical Asians scared of their own shadows. I quickly looped around and pulled out of the lot to avoid suspicion. The parking lot was dark and it felt like it was missing the standard pole-mounted halogen lights expected in large parking lots, which emit the ugliest pool of artificial goldenrod light, rendering everything seem as if one was wearing snow goggles in Tahoe.


One Comment

  1. you moved?

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